NFL Week 11 takeaways: Hill’s big debut, Henry’s game winner and Burrow’s injury


Week 11 in the NFL featured starting quarterback debuts for New Orleans’ Taysom Hill and Carolina’s P.J. Walker, an injury to April’s No. 1 draft pick for Cincinnati and an overtime win for the Titans.

Hill’s Saints won a divisional game against the Falcons on Sunday, while Walker’s Panthers shut out the Lions. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow went down with a knee injury in their loss to Washington, and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry ran in a game-winning TD to beat the Ravens.

In other early action, the Texans navigated Bill Belichick’s Patriots en route to their third win, and the Steelers moved to 10-0 in a convincing victory over the Jaguars.

In the afternoon slate, the Cowboys got a big win to stay in the NFC East hunt, while the Colts secured an overtime victory over the Packers. Justin Herbert continued his fantastic rookie campaign for the Chargers with three more touchdown passes, and the Dolphins were handed a bit of a reality check in Denver.

All that and more in Week 11‘s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

Standout performer: Patrick Mahomes, 34-of-45, 348 yards, 2 TDs

With their fifth straight AFC West championship effectively locked up, the Chiefs can concentrate on chasing down the Steelers for the AFC’s No. 1 overall playoff seed. The 9-1 Chiefs lead the 6-4 Raiders by three games with six to play, so the Chiefs look good in the division. Catching the Steelers might be another matter. The 10-0 Steelers not only lead the Chiefs by a game but have an easier schedule. — Adam Teicher

Next game: at Buccaneers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Yeah, that stung for the Raiders, who took a four-point lead with 1:43 to play, only to watch Mahomes work his magic. But not all is lost for the Raiders, who dropped to 6-4. They still control their playoff destiny, what with home games against two teams they are competing with for a postseason spot still on the schedule in the Colts and Dolphins. But how the Raiders respond in a cross-country trip to face the dangerous Falcons will go a long way in telling the tale. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: at Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Titans RB Derrick Henry, 133 rushing yards, 1 TD

The Titans kept themselves in the race for the AFC South title thanks to complementary football. A.J. Brown‘s 14-yard touchdown reception gave them a late lead. Harold Landry sacked Lamar Jackson in overtime to force a punt. Then, Henry closed the door with a 29-yard touchdown run in overtime. Those plays came after a tough start for the Titans, but as the game wore on, Tennessee was able to impose its will. The Titans have a showdown with the Colts in Indianapolis next week. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Colts (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The reeling Ravens have fallen to third place in the AFC North because of their inability to finish. Jackson was undefeated in his first 21 games in which Baltimore held a 10-point lead. Now, the Ravens have dropped two of their past three games in which they were ahead by double-digits. “It looked like that team wanted it more than us,” Jackson said after the overtime loss. “They were playing physical. When we went up, I felt like we took our foot off the gas. We just got to keep it going, finish teams.” — Jamison Hensley

Next game: at Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Standout performer: Saints QB Taysom Hill, 233 passing yards (and 51 rushing yards, 2 TDs)

The Saints proved they can win with Hill at quarterback — one of the most fascinating and polarizing playmakers in the entire NFL. Hill was effective as both a runner and passer in his first NFL start. More importantly, the Saints (8-2) continued to prove they can win in a number of different ways, with their seventh consecutive victory. The wins haven’t all been pretty, but New Orleans’ resilience is undeniable at this point. The defense was lights-out for the third consecutive game, and receiver Michael Thomas had his first 100-yard receiving game of the season. — Mike Triplett

Next game: at Broncos (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Saints buried the Falcons’ hope of a late-season surge under an avalanche of sacks. Going into Sunday, Atlanta was 3-1 under interim coach Raheem Morris and had shown some signs of life going into last week’s bye. But the combination of protection issues and the inability for the pass-catchers to get open left quarterback Matt Ryan vulnerable to eight sacks. With receiver Julio Jones nursing a left hamstring injury and the toughest schedule in the league remaining, victories figure to be tough to come by the rest of the way as the Falcons approach a major offseason makeover. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Raiders (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Texans QB Deshaun Watson, 334 passing yards, 2 TDs and 36 rushing yards, 1 TD

The Texans might have a losing record, but it’s not indicative of how Watson has played. In Houston’s victory on Sunday, he threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, and he led the Texans in rushing with 33 yards and a touchdown. There are a lot of reasons Houston might find it challenging to return to the top of the AFC South in the next season or two, but having Watson under center means it will be a much quicker turnaround for the Texans. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Lions (12:30 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Major disappointment. After two consecutive wins and what seemed like some positive momentum, the Patriots got up early and then couldn’t sustain it. They never made Watson uncomfortable. And they got away from the run, which is a big part of their identity. The end result: They now have six losses for the first time since 2009 and are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. — Mike Reiss

Next game: vs. Cardinals (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, 111 receiving yards

Yes, the Steelers are undefeated at 10-0. But more importantly, they’re mostly healthy and have plenty of momentum entering Thursday’s game against the Ravens at Heinz Field. Coach Mike Tomlin said tight end Zach Gentry has a “significant” knee injury but characterized the rest of the injury concerns as bumps and bruises — including the toe injury sustained by JuJu Smith-Schuster when he stepped on a penalty flag in the second half. Tomlin described the injury to his wide receiver as “nothing major” but said it could affect Smith-Schuster on a short week. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Ravens (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Quarterback Jake Luton was awful against the Steelers (16-of-37, 151 yards and four interceptions), and now there’s some uncertainty over which QB will start on Sunday against Cleveland. Gardner Minshew II (thumb) began throwing last week, and coach Doug Marrone said he won’t be ready to say which one (or even Mike Glennon) he would play this week. Had Luton not played so poorly, he likely would have held on to the job. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Marrone go back to Minshew — who is the only QB to have led the Jaguars to a victory since the beginning of the 2019 season. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Browns (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Browns DE Olivier Vernon, 3 sacks

Minus Myles Garrett, the Cleveland defense still delivered. The Browns bent a little, but they never broke, and in the end, they delivered the back-breaking plays. The first was via Sione Takitaki‘s pick-six of Carson Wentz, and the second came on Olivier Vernon’s safety of Wentz. The Browns are now 7-3, their best record through 10 games since 1994, when they were 8-2 under Bill Belichick. That team made the playoffs, and this one remains on track to snap the NFL’s longest postseason drought. — Jake Trotter

Next game: at Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

It was the same old sloppy mess in a loss that dropped the Eagles to 3-6-1 and offered further evidence that there is trouble brewing in Philadelphia. The Eagles actually remain in first place in the abysmal NFC East despite the loss and have time to get their act together, but this team feels different than the ones that preceded it, as though the Eagles are in a free-fall that won’t stop until they hit rock bottom. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Seahawks (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 30)

Standout performer: Washington RB Antonio Gibson, 94 rushing yards, 1 TD

Washington remains alive in the NFC East, now heading to Dallas with a chance to become a real factor in the race. But if Washington wants to win the division, it must receive better play from its defense. In the past three games, Washington has allowed 200 or more yards in the first half alone and was bailed out Sunday because of missed opportunities by the Bengals and then an injury to Joe Burrow. Washington has a chance, but if the defense doesn’t improve, those odds will decrease dramatically. It has a line with five first-round picks, which should form the basis of a strong unit. But so far, it’s been a disappointing one. — John Keim

Next game: at Cowboys (4:30 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The only thing the Bengals needed to avoid in 2020 happened on Sunday. Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, was carted off the field with a left knee injury and is likely done for the rest of the year. In a tweet he sent in the fourth quarter, he said, “See ya next year,” which indicates he isn’t playing again until 2021. If that is indeed the case, it derails the Bengals’ rebuilding process that was nearing the end of its second year under coach Zac Taylor. Without Burrow, it’s impossible to get a realistic look at how close Cincinnati is to becoming a playoff team for the first time since 2015. The Bengals have to hope Burrow picks up where he left off whenever he returns. The hopes of Cincinnati’s franchise hinge on Burrow’s rehab process. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Panthers WR DJ Moore, 127 receiving yards

Detroit punted six times. That sums it up. The Panthers forced only two punts their past four games combined before Sunday’s victory. They gave up 544 yards of total offense a week ago to Tampa Bay and gave up only 185 against Detroit, handing the Lions their first shutout since 2009. This won’t get the headlines former XFL star P.J. Walker will get, as he won his first NFL start as a replacement for injured Teddy Bridgewater (knee), but it is why Walker was able to succeed despite two horrific red-zone interceptions. The better news for Carolina: Bridgewater and maybe Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) return next week against Minnesota. — David Newton

Next game: at Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Lions need better play and better coaching. It’s been the common refrain from coach Matt Patricia in loss after loss after loss after loss during his tenure. Except the team hasn’t played better. It hasn’t been coached better. If anything, the Lions — somehow — seem to be regressing. Sunday’s shutout came against a team that had lost five consecutive games entering the game and was playing without their starting quarterback and MVP-caliber running back. But the Lions were thoroughly beaten anyway. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Texans (12:30 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Standout performer: Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap, 2.0 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits

The Seahawks are back atop the NFC West standings — and back on track — after three losses in four games had a lot of hands hovering nervously over the panic button. Their embattled defense, which started to make an apparent turn in the second half of last week’s loss to the Rams, delivered its best performance of the year against Kyler Murray. Seattle expects to get back running back Chris Carson next week to pair with Carlos Hyde, who led the resurgence of the running game on Thursday. And Russell Wilson got back to being Russell Wilson after the worst turnover funk of his career. The mini-bye will help the Seahawks get healthy before their Nov. 30 game at Philadelphia, which begins a four-game stretch against teams with a combined record of 8-28-1. Seattle has the NFL’s third-easiest remaining schedule, and things are looking up. — Brady Henderson

Next game: at Eagles (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 30)

Murray suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter of Arizona’s loss Thursday to the Seahawks that clearly affected his throwing ability, though he still had the Cardinals in a position to try to tie in the final minutes. But the Cardinals’ offense couldn’t find a rhythm in what was the biggest game of their season, and it cost them — not just on Thursday night but also potentially long term as the playoff picture plays out. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at Patriots (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Broncos S Justin Simmons, 7 tackles, 1 INT

The Broncos sacked Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa six times — he was eventually pulled from the game in the fourth quarter — and limited the Dolphins to just 105 yards worth of offense in the first three quarters. Toss in 189 yards rushing for the Broncos, with the one-two punch of Phillip Lindsay (82 yards rushing) and Melvin Gordon III (84 yards rushing), and it was the team’s best day on the ground of the season. The Broncos’ 450 total yards were a season high, as they finished with 30 passes and 33 runs and kept a sore-ribbed Drew Lock from being sacked in the game. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Saints (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Tagovailoa’s temporary benching should force us to temper our expectations of the rookie quarterback and the surging Dolphins. The Broncos’ defense exposed major flaws in the Dolphins’ offensive line and Tagovailoa’s ability to handle pressure. Both will likely take some time to improve. So while playoffs should still be a goal for the Dolphins, the bigger focus should be continuing to develop and protect Tagovailoa for the long run. — Cameron Wolfe

Next game: at Jets (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Chargers QB Justin Herbert, 366 passing yards, 3 TDs

It’s not a Chargers game without late-game dramatics. But this time, Los Angeles won, after holding off a late New York drive to break the Chargers’ string of hard-luck, fourth-quarter losses. Once again, QB Justin Herbert was the star. He tied a rookie record (set earlier this season by the Bengals’ Joe Burrow) with 37 completions. He set a personal record for passing yards and a rookie record for most games with at least three touchdown passes, as Sunday was the fifth time he has thrown three or more. The Jets did add some anxious moments, as they came back from an 18-point deficit to have a chance to tie the game late. But unlike blown leads earlier in the season against the Broncos (21 points), Buccaneers (17), Saints (17), Jaguars (16, but eventually won) and the Chiefs (11), the Chargers held on to get win No. 3. — Shelley Smith

Next game: at Bills (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Jets dropped to 0-10 and were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention (10 consecutive years out of the postseason), but the worst part of Sunday was experiencing quarterback envy. They watched a brilliant performance by Herbert, the kind of games Sam Darnold should be having. Darnold (shoulder) didn’t play and faces an uncertain future, as the Jets could be in the quarterback market again in the 2021 draft. — Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Colts QB Philip Rivers, 288 passing yards, 3 TDs

The Colts couldn’t afford to lose to the Packers on Sunday — not with Tennessee going on the road to beat Baltimore earlier in the day to keep the pressure on the Colts in the AFC South. Now the Colts are in position to clear their path to winning the division when they play the Titans for the second time in three games in Week 12. A victory over the Titans will give the Colts a one-game lead over Tennessee in the division and a season sweep. — Mike Wells

Next game: vs. Titans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

No one was throwing Marquez Valdes-Scantling under the bus after the Packers’ receiver fumbled on the second play of overtime. It was the third-year receiver’s first career fumble in 42 career games, and he had just hauled in a 47-yard catch on the final drive of regulation to help set up the game-tying field goal. “I’ve got more confidence in him now than probably ever,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. But what LaFleur didn’t like were the Packers’ four turnovers overall. “When you’re playing a good football team — or any football team for that matter — and you lose the turnover battle 4-2, it’s tough to come out on top,” he said. The good news is the Packers still sit atop the NFC North at 7-3 and have three division games left over the final six weeks. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Bears (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, 103 rushing yards (and 11 rushing yards, 1 TD)

Having lost four games in a row and seeing a season begin to crumble, the Cowboys put together a big win against Minnesota that might be the impetus they have been searching for all year. With a win on Thanksgiving against Washington, the Cowboys would have more wins than any other team in the NFC East. “We never thought we were out of it,” Ezekiel Elliott said. “Our division’s been struggling this year. We’re right where we need to be with what’s been going on with the division. We’ve got to build on this success, so we can’t come out on a short week and take a step back against a division opponent. We’ve got to make sure we build on the success and keep getting better.” — Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Washington (4:30 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The Vikings didn’t have any room error entering Week 11 with three consecutive winnable games at home. Now they have even less leeway if they want to remain somewhat in the playoff hunt at 4-6 and two games behind Arizona in the wild-card race. Minnesota’s defense took a step back against the Cowboys, having pressured Andy Dalton on four of his 34 dropbacks and allowing Elliott to gain a season-high 74 of his 103 rushing yards before initial contact, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. As was the story in losses against Green Bay, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Atlanta, the Vikings gave up too many points to win the game. No matter how good their offense played against the Cowboys, the defense’s shortcomings were too much to overcome. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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